Usually I blog about technology. Not today – this writing is pure geeky goodness.
I’m going to take a stab at creating a “dream cast” for a Star Trek: The Next Generation reboot, just as JJ Abrams rebooted the original series. I realize recasting and rebooting beloved properties is usually a disaster in the making (i.e. the upcoming Superman v Batman). Still, JJ Abrams sparked my imagination. Can TNG be rebooted and still retain the magic than made the series special? I’m not sure, but I’m going to attempt to put together a dream reboot cast which exists in the Abrams (or alternate) universe.
One thing to note – some of these characters are different people, precisely because history has changed. For example, the original series Uhura seemed like a bit of an incompetent intern (“There’s too much interference Captain!”). The reboot Uhura is a super genius who speaks dozens of languages, pilots vessels, is witty, and prosecutes with precision. To lesser degrees, Scotty and Chekov were also altered to make the film more exciting. I’ve taken similar license with these beloved TNG characters, and I hope you won’t hate me for it. Here goes:
Lieutenant Worf :: Dwayne Johnson
Worf would be a somewhat different character in the alternate universe where Vulcan has been destroyed. Klingons in the alternate universe are born from an ecologically destroyed homeworld, which the diminished New Vulcan Science Council was never able to help repair. Worf was thus born into cultural decline, growing up as a marauder. He pledged to enlist in Starfleet after Captain Picard saved his life. He currently serves as chief security officer on board the USS Defiant, but occasionally has a troubled relationship with fellow Starfleet crew, most notably Lt. Yar, Lt. O’Brien, and Commander Data. The Rock almost uniquely has the ability to pull off the stoic, yet troubled Worf. If you’re still not sure, have a look at this picture and see if you too can picture him as the son of Mogh.
Alternate Choice: Vin Diesel
Lieutenant Geordi LaForge :: Isaiah Mustafa
There’s something about the original LaForge character which never quite sat right with me. Lavar Burton played a lovable geek, who despite repeated romantic foibles, was able to empathize. This from a genius who is Starfleet’s preeminent mind in warp field propulsion and the person charged with keeping the pride of Starfleet in perfect working order. I don’t buy it. Like Abrams’ Uhura, I’d reboot LaForge into a super genius who’s a ruthless pragmatist, calculating, and executes with pinpoint precision. LaForge in this universe would be the brilliant colleague whose abilities you admire, but just can’t seem to reach on a human level. LaForge in turn is an introvert who seems most comfortable in the company of his toolbox or with Data, who’s similarly awkward in groups.
Alternate Choice: Don Cheadle.
Dr. Crusher :: Bryce Dallas Howard
Bryce Dallas Howard looks almost identical to Gates McFadden, but that’s not the only reason she’d be an ideal Dr. Crusher. If you’ve seen Howard’s work you know she can play the gentle and caring character who can bring a team together and can hold her own in a heated discussion. That’s Crusher. Also, she deserves a shot to make up for Lady in the Water.
Alternate Choice – Christina Hendricks, of Mad Men fame.
Lieutenant Yar :: Adrianne Palicki
Chief security officer on the USS Enterprise. Palicki in particular seems like a solid fit for the role of the Enterprise security chief because of her predilection for physical roles, such as Wonder woman (should the film ever get green lit), and Lady Jay in GI-Joe. She would likely play a less campy role in a reboot compared to Denise Crosby, probably something similar to Ripley in Aliens.
Alternate Choice: Julia Styles
Lieutenant O’Brien – Conan O’Brien
Who better to take on the role of O’Brien than an O’Brien? While it’s unlikely “CoCo” would take on such a role, he’s the only guy who would bring the comedic sensibilities coupled with brainpower required to follow in Simon Pegg’s footsteps. In this universe, O’Brien spends his collegiate years at the Daystrom Institute, then later at Starfleet research as a commissioned officer, running the skunkworks/ mad scientist wing of Starfleet. To bring comedy relief to a somewhat grittier reboot cast, the O’Brien character would be radically different from the Colm Meany character. He would be a cross between Scotty, Lewis Zimmerman of Voyager, and Lt. Reginald Barclay – a genius with more brainpower than common sense who’s more comfortable solving warp-field equations than handling a wrench. O’Brien would be a natural fit between the pragmatic, introvert LaForge, and the brilliant but childlike Data. One possible plot device would be to have CoCo serve under Captain Benjamin Sisko, as chief engineer, only to come in and save the Enterprise with some half-brained theory which just happens to work out in the end.
Alternate Choice – Craig Fergusen, possibly.
Commander Data :: Summer Glau
Bet you didn’t see that one coming. Yes, I’m suggesting Data rebooted as a female. Here’s why it makes sense to me: Noonian Soong always stuck me as an anime-collecting, Aspergers-eque weirdo whose people skills would make him a bit of a loner. Enter a female Data, who a socially snubbed Soong created to be a companion who could communicate on his level. There’s an obvious story about transcending your beginnings here, and Glau’s performances in Firefly demonstrate enough range to play a challenging role (which even Brent Spiner struggled to nail perfectly). Glau is a sci-fi regular, and has already played several characters who are emotionally distant, which should help. The reboot twist would also open up opportunities for relationship reboots ala Spock-Uhura, between Data and either O’Brien or LaForge.
Alternate Choice – Fan favorite Tom Hiddleston, who looks the part.
Captain Sisko :: Idris Elba
The cerebral, Shakespeare quoting, steady Captain Picard is the Yin to an irascible, impulsive Captain Sisko’s Yang. A study in contrasts between the Enterprise and Defiant Captains on the big screen alone makes Sisko worth including, but that’s not the only reason. Benjamin Sisko’s predilection to jump into action, and his troubled relationship with Picard, who indirectly causes Jennifer Sisko’s demise, could provide opportunities for deeper level of character development for both Captains. Idris Elba seems to be the only guy who can bring the level of intensity to the Emissary. Watch him in BBC’s “Luther” series, and you’ll see a Benjamin Sisko stuck in the 21st century playing gritty detective.
Alternate Choice: Nobody. Samuel L Jackson comes to mind, but he would remind audiences of the utterly lame Mace Windu.
Ensign Troi :: Chloe Moritz
In the alternate timeline, a heightened sensitivity to security would place the Betazoid species in critical positions in the Federation, using their mind-reading abilities as spies, diplomats, or as operatives deployed to defuse potentially unstable situations. The daughter of Starfleet Intelligence Commander Luxana Troi, Deanna is initially a typical snooty “trust fund baby” who’s just begun her career as an intelligence analyst on board Starfleet’s flagship vessel thanks to her mother’s influence. The idea here is that over time, the audience watches her grow into her own as a into a skilled officer. The spunky rebooted Ensign would balance the more experienced officers, and remove the need to introduce a Wesley Crusher character. Moritz, of Kick Ass fame, seems well suited to the role.
Alternate choice: Noomi Rapace as a more cannon Troi.
Commander Riker :: Jake Gyllenhall
Gyllenhall has all the qualities of a young Riker. He’s assured, confident, personable, and certainly looks the part. He’d likely have good chemistry with any of the female leads in a romantic on-screen relationship. Gyllenhall also has the acting depth balance the cerebral Picard with wit and empathy.
Alternate Choice – Wil Wheaton.
Just kidding. Henry Cavil.
Captain Picard :: Vincent Cassel
Any choice to replace Patrick Stewart will be controversial. Still, Vincent Cassel has the ability to pull it off brilliantly. He speaks in a French voice instead of a British Baritone, looks the part, would be the exact same age as Patrick Stewart when Stewart first donned the uniform. More importantly, he’s assured, polished, and has the ability to come off as cerebral and calculating (have a look at the Black Swan to see for yourself). I’d make the rebooted Picard a bit less of an archeologist, and more of a tactical mastermind. I might even throw in a passing line about Picard being the only person who’s ever bested Data in a game of Chess.
Alternate Choice – Chris Ecclestone. He’s grounded in Shakespeare, is a genre work perfectionist, and has the hairline to boot. Another alternate would be Patrick Stewart, returning as Admiral Picard. The twist here would be to have Stewart return in a non-field role. A s a mentor to Captain Riker, who’s in command of the Enterprise.